Today was my birthday. And it’s been one of my nicest yet. My family rolls their eyes when I say this, reminding me I always love my birthday. Which is true.
But today was a bit different, even so. And better for it.
My gifts ranged from phone calls to music to a cartoon portrait to gift cards to a 6-month subscription to free books. I had beignets for brunch (I dearly love beignets!) and Thai noodle soup for dinner.
My gifts were as diverse as my world is. My husband, laid up and a bit too ill to really shop, gave me gift cards to two of my favourite places: Etsy & Kindle. Plus earrings (another fave!). My sons both called — one from Bali, w/ tales of beaches & hostels & adventure. The other w/my grandson in the backseat, calling to me GiGi! GiGi! My elder son had to call me after they arrived home, because Trin kept pointing to the phone & demanding GiGi! Once on FaceTime, he blew me a kiss, and at a scant 2 years (only 23 months!), said quite clearly: I love you. What gift is better than THAT?
courtesy the artist,
A dear girlfriend found me several music videos on YouTube, ensuring I will have new things to listen to this next year. My sister and her daughter, my niece, called to sing a Happy Birthday! duet. Former students sent lovely notes; old friends & colleagues sent best wishes, and one student even drew me the cartoon, right. It even looks like me, as my beloved aunt noted!
In other words? The best of my gifts were the ones that knew ME — music, art, family. Tea & coffee, poetry & bees. My grandson’s I love you is every bit as valuable as the pricey screech owl house my sister & my niece went in on for me. Because each of them is about ME, a link to who I am this year, who I am becoming. As are all the shout-outs from so many friends I don’t f2f any more. FaceBook is its own gift, in many ways.
At one point in my life — perhaps more than one — I would have wanted other things, more tangible, perhaps. A trip, maybe. Certainly dinner out. But today’s beignets at my favourite local breakfast place were better than any fancy dinner the city could provide. And the cartoon from my former student — now friend — is every bit as dear as a ‘real’ present (re: in a box, with a ribbon). So was the music, chosen w/ my next listening moments in mind.
Yet another present? From someone who doesn’t even realise he gave me a ‘present’ at all? Hector the cat not only came back downstairs, but sat on my desk for a lengthy belly rub. What a gift!
Here’s my point: presents (the best ones) needn’t cost money. Yes, your mother told you that. But it’s true. I would rather have music and a cartoon and a subscription to unlimited books and a screech owl house and phone calls from my loved ones than an expensive cashmere sweater, one of my previously fave gifts. Because there is nothing like offering someone you care about a small piece of you. Honouring them.
Happy Birthday to me. I can’t imagine a better day!